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Lotus in Times Square

A wearable ring that controls objects at home by pointing. "This sounds too good to be true." Is how it all started. And yet, after multiple months of planning, lots of design back & forth, and toiling over dates... ...Lotus was on this billboard, on Broadway, in Times Square! For a whole week!

Billboard in Times Square with image of grey Lotus Ring and text "Lotus is a wearable ring to control objects at home by pointing. Brex fuels their growth."
Lotus Times Square Billboard

Of course, the story doesn't end there. "When you go IPO..." began one of our advisors - Ambika - after seeing the picture above. She insisted on going one step further. "When you go IPO, you will regret it, if you don't have a picture of you with your very first billboard, especially one in Times Square!" This was on Wednesday (March 22nd). I resisted. It didn't seem like a good use of the company's money. Not to mention I still had to finish the pitch deck for our first-ever pitch competition in Atlanta four days later on Monday (March 27th). And after that, I still needed to be in DC for the final week leading up to Demo Day (April 3rd). I'd be dead tired. "Failure is not an option." -Every Indian Parent Ever By Friday night, I had completed my pitch deck. By Saturday, I had researched various flight options. By Sunday morning, I had settled on an itinerary that gave me 3 hours in Times Square, followed by getting on to the last plane to Atlanta, the night before the competition. Next morning - pitch competition. This plan saved $ (by not having to stay an extra night in New York) and time (no wasted time in Times Square / NYC). Oh, and I decided to pay for it out-of-pocket. All problems solved. Sunday morning 3.30am. Time to drive to the airport. Here we go. Sunday 6.30am PST:

View out of a plane window with its wing visible, a  city lit up in the distance against a dark sky.
Plane leaving San Francisco

Sunday 2.14pm EST (I lost time) - see New York in the distance:

Daytime view out of a plane window with its wing visible. New York City is visible in the distance.
Plane landing in New York

But I land in Newark. Next step - Trains (yes plural) to Manhattan. 3:08pm EST. 3:58pm EST - made it to Penn station! Just a few blocks away from Time Square now. 4:28pm EST: A mere 10 hours after I leave home - Times Square!! Newsflash. There is more than just one billboard in Times Square. Uh oh. How do I find our billboard?! Followed by this thought: "I will be the world's first founder, who made an entire plan, flew all the way to Times Square, and couldn't find his own startup's billboard. And will go down in history as the world's worst founder." After searching for a bit, and realizing I may be under the billboard itself, I crossed the street. There you are! (Found the Disney & Forever 21 underneath!) Next problem. The billboard isn't showing Lotus 24/7. And there's no way of knowing when Lotus will show up. Solution! (See bottom left corner of image) And finally, at 4:47pm EST. It happened.

Dhaval looking amazed in front of the Lotus billboard in Times Square.
Dhaval with the Lotus Billboard

An epic fail of a picture. Let's try again. And then again. Finally, at 5:47pm EST:

Dhaval smiling in front of the Lotus billboard with two thumbs up.
Dhaval giving the Lotus Billboard two thumbs up.

This one's for you, Ambika. Thank you for pushing us. For pushing me. And by 7:27pm: Time for the airport (LGA). Next stop - Atlanta. First-ever pitch competition. The story doesn't end there. 10:28pm EST. 16hrs since home. No sleep. Inside the plane, on the flight to Atlanta, on the tarmac. PA system comes on. "The captain has announced that he is fatigued. As a result, we are canceling this flight. Please deboard." That was the last flight to Atlanta.

What follows is a scramble to find a flight that will get me from New York to Atlanta in time for the pitch competition. A hotel to stay at in the meantime. And a way to ensure my luggage also gets to Atlanta.

Time to bring in the big guns. My amazing partner - Chinmayi. We divide and conquer. Hotel? Booked. Flight? Booked. Luggage? On its way. 5.47am EST - On the plane to Atlanta.

I pass out. ***

<Loud Noise> 8:52am EST - Landed in Atlanta. Finally! Uh oh. I was supposed to have landed around 8.20am. Guess we took off about 30mins behind schedule. Still need to pick up bags, get a cab to the hotel, check-in, shower, change & run to the competition.

All by 10.30am. Leaves me 1hr and 40mins. Should I try to get the bags? Or ditch and head straight to the hotel? We're going for gold.

Texts from Dhaval to Chinmayi sharing that he has his bags and will be at the hotel soon.
Some of many texts between Dhaval and his significant other, Chinmayi

9.37am EST - Cost me 45mins, but got my bags, got an Uber, and on the way to the hotel! 10.00am EST - I get to my hotel room.

I now have precisely 30mins to shower, change, and run to the pitch competition. In a different hotel. <Unpack (luggage). Shower. Change. Repack (backpack).> 10.30am EST - Run out of the hotel, trying to navigate. Decide not to run, but "jog" to avoid getting sweaty. With a heavy backpack. Uphill. 10.40am EST - That's not how the human body works. I'm sweating profusely. "But hey, at least I'm sweaty in a suit." And at the pitch competition hotel! Time to find the specific conference hall. 10.50am EST - 12 hours and 30 minutes after New York - I MAKE IT! With 10mins to spare, as it turns out - 10.30am was the check-in, and the event started at 11am! Joy shortlived. Turns out the slide deck I sent didn't export as intended. Apparently, transferring slides from one PowerPoint to a different (master) PowerPoint without completely changing the formatting is a problem humanity still needs to solve. Solution: Brute force. We take screenshots of every single slide in my deck. And copy-paste. Copy-paste is your friend. As is the very patient gentleman who patiently did this with me! Thank you Maurice (and Eddie - below)!

Dhaval and Eddie looking at Dhaval's phone smiling.
Last minute Powerpoint edits wth some help.

Unfortunately - no more slide transitions as planned. Goodbye, well-rehearsed timing. "It's ok. We're going to make this work." 11.59am EST - Seated soon after. 1.35pm EST - Here we go. Moment of truth.

Dhaval speaking on stage beside a screen that says Lotus
Dhaval delivering the pitch for Lotus

And a sigh of relief.

Texts between Dhaval and Chinmayi. He shares that he has pitched and the judges are deliberating. Chinmayi offers "I'm sure it went really well"
Some words of encouragement from Chinmayi

Now we wait. *** < Fast forward about an hour > *** LOTUS WINS !!! ***

Dhaval having his picture taken in front of a room full of people.
Dhaval being congratulated as Lotus is announced the AgeTech Challenge winner!

(With special appearance and incredible moral support from Mike Hughes and Eric Levitan as pictured here)

Pitch competition finalists and judges gathered and smiling.
OnAging 2023 AgeTech Challenge finalists and judges

Thank you so much - Max, Sarah, all the judges, Jeff, Gordon, and the whole team who organized this! < Fast forward 4 days > Pitch #2 to AARP for their Open Mic challenge. (Pending a due diligence call) Lotus gets an offer for AARP's accelerator! < Fast forward to 7 days ago > Pitch #3 to LeadingAge for their Innovation Showcase.

Standing on stage and smiling with Jeannee (LeadingAge California President and CEO) are Andy (Head of Partnerships at Lotus) and Dhaval (Founder and CEO at Lotus). Text below and above image “LeadingAgeCA Innovation Showcase 2023. First Place Award Lotus Labs, The Lotus Ring”.
Lotus wins the LeadingAgeCA Innovation Showcase 2023

Lotus wins LeadingAge's pitch competition!!

None of this would've been possible without the Lotus team or my partner. Thank you Chinmayi. You're Amazing. This story is dedicated to all those partners (often in the shadows) without whose moral support & relentless patience none of this would ever be possible. We see You. You are Incredible. "Don't look for someone who will solve all your problems. Look for someone who won't let you face them alone." Lotus.

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